Despite the fact that I am a self-professed non-feminist, gender and the role it plays in relationships is discussed quite frequently at the Spiegels. This is in part due to fact that we have three boys and one girl. Watching them develop and relate to one another in such different ways generates a lot of conversations between Jim and me both on how to help our kids understand one another and how their differences translate to the larger scale of men and women in general. But obviously Jim and I, too, have the gender gap to overcome and find plenty of fodder in our own interactions as well.
A few Sundays back, we were riding home from the church with the kids and while I didn’t exactly have Jim’s full attention (I was competing with ESPN radio and the cacophony coming from the backseat), I took a moment or two to “remind” him of some projects around the house I thought needed his attention. This was the impetus of yet another discussion between us regarding the differences between the masculine and feminine approaches to life. He would say I was nagging and he would probably be right. Let’s face it girls, we nag. We take every opportunity we possibly can find to remind them of all the things they should be doing, could be doing, need to be doing. We cannot hold our tongues and let them do it in their own time. I can’t count the times when I have asked Jim to do something, probably more than once, and am getting ready to remind him again when he goes and does it of his own accord. And frankly when he does it on his own, when I come home and he has unclogged the toilet or cleaned up the garage, I don’t really find it as satisfying because I didn’t tell him to do it! If that isn’t a symptom of the fall of man (and woman) and the complete and total infiltration of sin into every crevice of our being, I don’t know what is.
But here’s the thing. Even in the way that He caused our natures to be cursed and fallen, God has shown mercy. Eve overstepped her place in reaching to be like God, and Adam abdicated his role in not intervening and, instead, participating with her. So God said, “Okay Eve, you want to be in charge? Then I will pair you with a man who would rather sit on the Lazy Boy or act like he doesn’t hear the kids pulling one another’s eyes from their sockets.” And He says “Okay Adam, you don’t want to step up and be irresponsible? Then I will pair you with a woman who will nag you about cutting the grass and ask you completely unimportant questions when there are 30 seconds to go in the last quarter with the score tied and your team on the 10-yard line.” But it could be worse. God, in His wisdom, has allowed even our weaknesses to compliment one another.
Men struggle with irresponsibility when it comes to their duties at home and spending time with their families. (I am making a generalization here. Please don’t e-mail me about how you are married to the perfect man who washes the dishes every night before he rubs your feet while you tell him about your day with the kids, okay? I get it. These are generalizations that are true to some extent in most cases. Is that a good enough disclaimer for you? Ditto for all those who think I am oversimplifying the follies of women). So God gives men women who are, generally speaking, good at organizing stuff at home and who love their husbands so much they are willing to force their spouse to spend time with them. Women struggle with keeping their emotions in check and overstepping the boundaries of their spouses. So God gives them men who are, generally speaking, much more steady in their mood swings and who are laid back enough to handle encroachment in the small areas and strong enough to repel encroachment in the big ones. I love that Jim is strong where I am weak and vice versa. It’s like spooning—you fit where your partner is lacking. So rather than belittling one another for the areas where we differ, let’s appreciate these as opportunities for grace and hope the other guy (or gal) will do the same. Otherwise we are back in the garden, once again trying to assign blame, locked in an eternal tug of war in which no one wins. So the next time the wife gives you the stink eye (again) for not putting your socks in the hamper (again) or the hubby drifts in and out of listening to the minute details of your day, just take a deep breath and move on. After all, it could be a lot worse.